Click on title to see the film’s trailer
Into the Woods *** Directed by Rob Marshall. Starring Anna Kendrick, Johnny Depp, Chris Prine, Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt. A witch tasks a childless baker and his wife with procuring magical items from classic fairy tales to reverse the curse put on their family tree. The first two-thirds of the film, which are like the Brothers Grimm’s Greatest Hits on laughing gas, have a fizzy, fairy-dust energy. But as soon as the baker couple’s scavenger hunt is over and a rampaging giant appears, Woods loses its magic and momentum and sags like an airless balloon.
Unbroken **½ Directed by Angelina Jolie. Starring Garrett Hedlund, Domhnall Gleeson, Jai Courtney, Jack O’Connell, Alex Russell, John D’Leo. After a near-fatal plane crash in WWII, Olympian Louis Zamperini spends a harrowing 47 days in a raft with two fellow crewmen before he’s caught by the Japanese navy and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp. With what I see on the screen weighted too much toward pain and too little toward redemption, this is a film I respect more than love, and that is something of a wasted opportunity.
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies **½ Directed by Peter Jackson. Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett, Evangeline Lilly, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Orlando Bloom, Luke Evans. Bilbo and Company are forced to engage in a war against an array of combatants and keep the Lonely Mountain from falling into the hands of a rising darkness. The finale is not an all-out disappointment. It should satisfy the franchise’s fans, and it does wrap up any loose ends you might be wondering about.
Song One ** Directed by Kate Barker-Froyland. Starring Anne Hathaway, Johnny Flynn, Mary Steenburgen, Ben Rosenfield, Lola Kirke, Paul Whitty, Dan Deacon. A young woman strikes up a relationship with her ailing brother’s favorite musician. The movie, which marks the director’s feature debut, has the low-key appeal of Once, with its extended scenes of music and drama-free romantic subplot. But the characters in Song One are stubbornly bland, despite their quirks.